Tis the season...for getting really crappy gifts.
Do you throw it away, or are you a re-gifter? No matter how you deal with the mounds of useless stuff, every year it never fails. It's as inevitable as the sun rising and Santa ho-ho-ho-ing. You will receive some gifts that make you think:
What the hell?
Why do people give crummy gifts to the ones they know and love? There was an interesting study published in The Journal of Consumer Research suggests that familiarity actually makes it more difficult to figure out and predict what our loved ones prefer.
Dr. Davy Lerouge of Tilburg University, the Netherlands and Dr. Luk Warlop from Katholieke University, Belgium found that we buy crappy gifts even even when armed with lots of information about our loved ones. In fact, we have the most trouble understanding the tastes of those we know a lot about.
Lerouge and Warlop set up a bunch of experiments in which couples, who had been together more than two years on average, tried to predict which kinds of bedroom furniture the other would like. In the experiments, half the couples knew they were trying to predict their partner's preferences. The other half tried to predict the preferences of someone they were told was a stranger, but who was, in fact, their partner.
The results: Subjects were much better at predicting a stranger's preferences than their own partner's.
Lerouge and Warlop explained that when predicting what a stranger would like, we are forced to "rely on general and stereotypical information about the stranger, which can be quite diagnostic." But when predicting what our loved ones would like, we "ignore this valid information" and rely on more intimate information "that is often found to be invalid or irrelevant when predicting product attitudes."
In other words, you might remember the time when your significant other overslept because the clock's alarm was too quiet. And so you find an alarm clock with a louder alarm. Does this mean they will love their gift? Hardly.
Here are some gifts you should steer clear from for sure. Take my word for it, do NOT buy the following:
Hair removal: This includes nose hair trimmers, personal groomers, or ear hair shavers. Unless your loved one begs for one, just don't do it. Nothing says "You're a walking Sasquatch" like getting any sort of hair removal apparatus.
Stupid puzzles: If your loved one is under six year old, go for it. Otherwise, don't buy that 50,000 jigsaw puzzle. I don't care if it is the Taj Mahal. And no, it doesn't matter if it's a 3-D puzzle. This gift suggests that the recipient has too much time on their hands.
Used crap: OK, you cheapskate. Don't be going around the house looking for something to wrap and give away. You don't think we can tell? The seals on the box are all broken...duh! All the cheese popcorn in the tin is missing! Hmm.
Drug store perfumes/colognes: This stuff should be banned. Talk about tacky! Not only are you suggesting that your loved ones smells bad, but why give them something that would make them smell like a mix of potpourri and whisky? Hai-Karate anyone?
Weight loss products: Free weights, exercise videos, or a treadmill might sound like a great gift, but guys - do NOT give your lady anything to do with weight loss. Nothing says "Babe, you're a fat ass" like getting her weight loss stuff. It's about as subtle as hitting them over the head with a Honeybaked Ham.
You might as well just smack her hand when she goes for that Christmas cookie. See how that works for ya!